By Reverend Raidou Hirota
|Translated and edited by Udumbara Foundation staff.
|This is NOT an official site of
the Nichiren Shoshu Shoshin-kai
Gohonzon is a piece of rice paper. The Law, however, is not paper. When you look at the
front of Gohonzon you see the characters of Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, if you turn
Gohonzon over and view its backside, you don't see the written Law. The Law is neither
the front nor the back of Gohonzon; the Law is Myoho-renge-kyo. But you can't see it.
You can't point to it, or identify it and say there is Myoho-renge-kyo. Myoho-renge-kyo is
a power that exists. The most approximate physicl entity that describes Myoho-renge-kyo
What is Gohonzon? The Hoben (second) and Juyro (sixteenth) chapters of the Lotus
Sutra are explained on the Gohonzon. Gohonzon is the mirror of your life. When you look
at a mirror you think you are looking at yourself, but it is only an image of your physical
self that you are looking at. You can't see inside yourself -- your thoughts, your spiritual
aspect. Gohonzon is the mirror of your heart--the mirror of your life. You need a mirror
so that you know what you look like in your heart.
It is believed that there are only 128 extant Gohonzons inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin.
Yet, there could be more since Daishonin conferred a Gohonzon to each of the five elder
priests (goroso) who were disciples of Nichiren Daishonin while he was alive, but who
abandoned the orthodox teaching after His death, each going his separate way and
establishing his own sect of Nichiren Buddhism. So the whereabouts of their Gohonzons is
You must realize that your life is also included in the
universe. The Gohonzon is a small scroll that represents
ichinen sanzen (everything). At the center of Gohonzon is
the Law of Myoho-renge-kyo. It is this Law which
governs everything including the protective forces of
Buddhism (shoten zenjin). Because
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo encompasses everything,
including yourself, you are not searching for Buddha or a
god outside yourself. You must realize that you have
Buddha-nature within you, and Buddha-nature is one of
the elements within ichinen sanzen.
The most significant aspect of Gohonzon is
"Namu-myoho-renge-kyo-Nichiren". Everything else is
secondary. Please remember that the Gohonzon must be
handled with the same care you confer to yourself.